Summer Reading: 5 Classic Recommendations for Students

Summer vacation is just around the corner! With school out, parents and students alike are looking for fun and enriching ways to pass the time. Why not pick up a classic novel? Due to content and reading level, these reading recommendations are mostly aimed at middle through high school students, but as always, it’s a case-by-case basis as to what is right for your child.

Here’s a list of engaging and accessible classics for you and your student to enjoy this summer!

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

It’s right there in the name! If you’ve ever wanted to frolic through a mysterious enchanted forest, this is the play for you. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a favorite among Shakespeare enthusiasts, and for good reason. Between the relationship drama, fairy hijinks, and bumbling amateur thespians, this comedy is one of Shakespeare’s most lighthearted works by far. Summer is prime Shakespeare-in-the-Park season. If there’s one near you, that’s a great way to see this or any of his other plays.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

You may have heard of the Academy Award nominated Studio Ghibli movie starring Christian Bale in the English dub, but you may not have known that this whimsical story started out as a 1986 novel. Diana Wynne Jones mixes captivating worldbuilding and lovable characters with unforgettable wit and humor. This book is categorized as middle grade. However, it is certainly accessible to a younger audience, but I personally read it in college and fell in love.

Sula by Toni Morrison

As with all of Morrison’s novels, Sula tackles some more mature themes, and I would personally recommend it to high schoolers and older. However, it is one of her lighter works by far, and it is worth the read for Morrison’s beautiful writing alone. The friendship between the two women at the core of the novel is just as heartwarming as it is heartbreaking. The themes of love, friendship, race, and womanhood make for a poignant and memorable read.

The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

Nearly a hundred years after its publication, the glitz and glamour of F Scott Fitzgerald’s most well-known work is as captivating as ever. It’s a rather quick read, but the characters and themes will have you thinking long after you’ve closed the book.

Having recently entered the public domain, meaning that the original novel is no longer protected by copyright, we are already seeing a lot of Gatsby adaptations in the form of movies, books, and two stage musicals! Now’s a great time to pick up this well-beloved story about love, loss, and luxury in 1920s America.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

The Outsiders is a well-established summer reading list staple and is all the more impressive for being written by Hinton when she was in high school. Because of this, the book is incredibly relatable to teens, perfectly capturing the voice of the troubled, poetic Ponyboy. Despite the themes of violence, there is a real sense of community and love at the heart of it, and it’s incredibly easy to become attached to the characters.

What do you think? Have you read any of these books? Do you have any summer recommendations? We would love to hear from you in the comments! Looking for even more summer enrichment for your student? Join A Grade Ahead by taking a free assessment today, or consider one of our enrichment camps!


Author: Sydney Goldstein, Teacher at A Grade Ahead


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